By Tim Bedley
I have been assigning slide presentations to my elementary students for many years. I found myself repeating the same critiques to group after group. Now, I don’t leave “PowerPoint” style to chance. Here are a few of the tips I give my students.
- Use VERY small amount of text. A few words that give the main idea for each slide is good. The big NO-NO: Reading your slides to your audience.
- Choose one font style for the main points and one for the sub-points. Use these styles throughout your entire presentation. This includes font name, color, and size.
- Be careful with overlap. Text that is barely touching a photo is awkward. Text that sits right next to the edge of the slide is awkward.
- Dark text on light background or light text on dark background. Contrast! Make it POP!
- No bullet points. Duplicate your slides and put your sub-points on separate slides.
- Try to fill your slide with one large image.
- Faces are better. We all like to see closeups of the human face.
- Be careful not to distort your pictures. Grab the photo in the corner, not the edge, to change the size.
- Be careful with image size. If you use a small image and resize it to make it large, the image gets very blurry.
- Photos are better than clipart. Better yet, make your own pictures by taking photos or drawing pictures.
- Cite your source. Always give credit for the images you use.
Overall Design Tips
- Avoid using templates. They are cheesy and show little creativity.
- Avoid slide transitions. You want your audience focused on the slides, not the switching between slides. NO transition is wonderful!
- Simple! Keep your slides clutter free. A nice big clear picture with 3 words to focus the audience is great!
- Avoid creating a “The End” slide. If you have a conclusion, great. Otherwise, just make a main topic slide as your last slide. Don’t make a slide that says, “Thanks for watching,” or something similar.
- Advanced Tip: Use the rule of thirds. Draw a tic-tac-toe board on your slide. Place items where the lines cross. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but the main thing: try to avoid centering things on the slide.
Note: These tips definitely limit creativity, but my purpose is to teach my students to first create a good clean slide show. Once that is accomplished, then I encourage the students to break the rules…with purpose. It’s similar to learning a new instrument. We first need to learn our scales and copy the masters. Later, we develop our own style and can artfully break the rules.
Screencast Instructional Video: 12 PowerPoint Tips for Kids
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